Friday, April 27, 2012

T-shirt and Dress Upcycle

Upcycles, repurposes...whatever you want to call them, they are kind of my thing.  Alot of folks in the blogpsphere say how frugal or thrifty they are, but I won't tiptoe around it.  I'm just plain cheap.  I love using what I have to make something new for free.  The challenge this week for the Sew Along over on Project Run and Play was an Earth Day Challenge.  And my earth-friendly approach was to reuse what we already have.

I took an old stained with holes in it T-shirt and combined it with a paint-splattered dress. I added to that fabric scraps from the fitted crib sheet I made for Dozer.

Scroll down for details on how I made this:

First I cut off the sleeves and the bottom of the T-shirt.

Then I salvaged some paint-free areas of the hem from the dress, which I fashioned into the bell sleeves.

I cut out part of the dress lining and sewed that into a channel, which I filled with elastic and attached to the shirt, joining the top and bottom pieces of the shirt back together. 

I had this after adding the sleeves and the channel under the bodice. I gathered the sleeves by attaching them with elastic thread. Elastic thread is my cheater method for just about any gathering that I may do. Perfectly spaced gathers every time.

I sewed a circle skirt from my scraps, then placed my top and skirt wrong sides together and sewed them at the waist.  I flipped right sides together, ironed and sewed again so that my raw edge was encased in a french seam. (I also pieced the circle skirt with french seams.)
Now here is the really glorious part:  I finished the hem on the circle skirt with a rolled hem using my brand new serger that I got for my birthday.  I'm so excited to have a serger.  I just can't even tell you.  I never would have bought it for myself, but I am so thrilled that hubby was overly generous this year!  I mean really generous, because we often don't even purchase gifts for one another.  All those pinched pennies usually go toward the kids.

Don't worry if you don't have a serger though.  You can just do a tight zig-zag stitch around your hem for the same effect.  Or use fabric glue to attach a ribbon to the bottom of the skirt.  That's what I did on the little peasant dress here.  If you need help making a circle skirt, feel free to ask, but  I learned here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Yoga Suit Tutorial Part One

The sew along to the Project Run and Play sportswear challenge pushed me to try something new.  I do sew with knits because of the comfort factor.  I learned the clothes I make will just hang in the closet if they aren't cozy enough for play.  But even as I ventured into sewing knits, I stuck to making dresses.  With this challenge I decided to undertake my first pair of pants.  This was also my first time sewing a hood, first time sewing cargo pockets (or pockets at all actually) and first time using a double needle.  It was a definite learning experience. 

Are you familiar with the double needle? When you use one, your plain jane sewing machine can turn out this:

It was great because I could sew on knit without using a zig-zag stitch that screams homemade (I actually consider it a compliment if people think my work came from a store.), so the finish was more tailored.  You have two rows on top, with a zig-zag on the bottom, so you still have the needed stretch.  My problem was that my machine was prone to skipping stitches here and there.  You can see them if you look closely at the pic.  And the thread was prone to tangle, so I had to re-thread over, and over.  And over.  It took a really long time because there was so much top stitching.  But overall I'm really happy with the outcome, and I will definitely use the double needle again.  The key was to go slow and not let the bobbin get close to running out.  When the bobbin neared the end, the thread tangled and knotted.

I drafted my overall pattern by tracing (or at least using the basic shape) a much-loved and much-stained pair of pants that fit my daughter a tad too snugly and adding in the seam allowance and room for growth.  I just folded them in half and traced.  First the front.

And then the back.  Make sure you pull out that extra fabric in the back--you know, the pointy part.

I cut out two pockets like this.  To make my pattern for the pocket, I started with a rectangle piece of paper cut to the size I wanted my pocket.  I used a glass to make the rounded edge on the outside, then free handed the inside.  The top of the pocket will be encased in the waist of the pants, and the right side will be encased in the side seam.  Keep that in mind when determining the size of your pattern piece.  If I can figure out how to make it actual size, I'll upload the pattern I used.

I made my own binding using strips of my knit jersey.  I used this method here for the binding.

 I attached the binding on the inside curve of both pockets, and pinned the binding in place on the outside curve.
You can't see it very well but I sewed the bottom layer of the binding to the pocket.

You can see what I mean a little better in this picture.

Then I folded over the top of my binding and sewed the binding onto the pocket and the pocket onto the pants all in one swoop.
I did this times two.

With the front pockets attached, I sewed the front and back piece of the pants together, encasing the side of the pocket.

I didn't get pics of the process, but I made the cargo pockets like you'd make a pillow or a coaster.  For one pocket I cut two rectangles with rounded corners.  I placed wrong sides together, sewed around the edges, leaving a small hole on one side.  Then I turned the pocket right side out and pressed it.  The flap was the same process.

I  centered my pocket on the side seam by folding it in half and placing it right up against the seam.  I placed the top of this pocket about two inches below the bottom of the front pocket.  If you look closely, you can see that I've also topstitched across the top of the pocket prior to attaching it.

You can see the stitching better here. 

Pin in place.

I sewed very carefully and slowly around the edges.  I sewed as close to the edge as possible.

I centered my flaps the same way I centered the pocket.

I placed the flap right against the pocket with right side facing down and sewed it on.

Then I flipped the flap down into place and ironed it.  (I never use my iron except to sew.)

And topstitched.

Now it looks like this.

I turned each of the pant legs inside out, so the right sides were together.  

Then I sewed up the inseam.

So it looks like this.  Of course, you're doing everything twice, so you would have two pant legs that look like this.

I flipped one of the pant legs right side out.

Then stuffed it inside the other pantleg.

...and sewed the crotch seam from the front of the waist to the back of the waist.  If you're in doubt at this point, pin your pant legs together and turn them right side out just to make sure you have everything assembled correctly.  If you need help, Simply Modern Mom has a pajama pant tutorial here with great photos.

 Now you have this.
For the waistband I cut a big rectangle.  Then my picture taking lapsed.   I will try to explain. The length of the rectangle (Make sure the stretch goes long-ways.) is a few inches shorter than my daughter's waist. 1.) I folded in half, so the rectangle is just as long but skinnier.  2.) I sewed the edge so that I had a tube.  3.)  I turned the tube right side out.  4.)  I sewed the ends together to close the loop. From An Igloo offers a different (better) take on the foldover waistband here.

I centered the seam of waistband in the back, pinned and sewed the waistband to the pants.  You should have to stretch the waistband a bit to fit it to the pants.  Also, make sure you attached the band so that the "wrong" side of your seam is on the inside of the fold, when you fold down your waistband.

Whew, are you still with me?  This is my first major tutorial, so let me know if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them.

Next up is the yoga set hoodie, but I think we may have to save Part 2 for another day.

10-Minute Top Tutorial

This top is seriously the easiest thing I have ever made. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I came up with the idea of sewing a summer yoga outfit with cargo pockets for the sew along at Project Run and Play. My machine was not cooperative with all that topstitching on the cargo pockets. If the machine wasn't eating my fabric, the threads in the double needle were tying themselves into knots. I needed a really simple top to finish off the outfit, so I could at least grab a few hours of sleep.

When I thought up the concept for this top, I searched Pinterest and Googled to see if I could find  a tutorial or pattern.  I came up empty, which is not to say its not out there.  (This thing is so simple, I know folks must have made it before.)  But this is my version:

All you need is two rectangles of stretchy fabric.  You sew four straight lines, and you're done.

I measured my girl and got a 23 inch chest.  I added a few inches for the seam allowance and ease, so that makes 26 inches. 

Next, I measured from her shoulder to where I wanted the top to fall at her hip.  I got 17 inches.  I added four more inches for seam allowance and because the top blouses a little, so I knew that would take up some of the length.  So that's 21 inches.

I cut my two rectangles 13 inches (half of your chest measurement, after you add for seam allowance and ease) by 21 inches.  Make sure if your fabric only stretches one way, that the stretch is going around the body--the way of your chest measurement.

I placed right sides together.  On the 13 inch side, I sewed in 2 1/2 inches along the top.  I did this on each side to make the shoulder seams.  I placed that pin there at 2 1/2 inches, so I'd know where to stop.  That's your first two straight lines.

Then I sewed up the side seams.  I sewed down along the sides, starting about 5 1/2 inches below the shoulder seam to form arm holes.

Sorry I didn't get pics of all the steps, but I hope the above diagram will help.  The dotted lines show where you need to stitch.  Make sure you use a zig-zag stitch if you're not using a serger, so your fabric doesn't pucker or get too wavy.  The measurements given will make a top that fits about a size 8-10.  It fits a smaller child as a dress.  Of course, you can adapt for smaller sizes.  I made a slightly smaller version that fits my six-year-old, who wears a size 6-7. The very same top fits Dozer (She plows through everything.), who wears an 18-24 months, as a dress.

That's it.  All done.  I did not hem, because the edges rolled nicely.  The fabric is grey cotton lycra with silver dots that I purchased from Girl Charlee for $5.25 a yard.

Ten minutes of sewing + about $1 in fabric=top/dress that should fit for several years. I'm pretty excited about that deal. I'm going to be sewing up several of these for each of my girls. I'm even thinking of making a onsie version for the baby. What do you think?

If you're here from Project Run and Play and looking for more on these... and tutorials to come during naptime!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

DIY Pop-up Birthday Cake Card

Card making is just not one of my skills, but check this out.  I can't wait to show this to you.  I'm so proud!

I made that today, and it was a cinch.

If you're not familiar with Robert Sabuda's pop-up children's books, you've got to check them out.  They are like no other pop-up book you have ever seen.  Each page is a moving paper sculpture, a true work of art.  I made this card using a pattern on Robert Sabuda's website.  He offers a ton of free card patterns for download.  There's also a gallery of cards folks have made using his templates.  Trust me, mine doesn't come close to measuring up, but for a first attempt, I'm still proud.

All you need to do is go here, download the PDF and follow the instructions.  I did change a few things.  Here's what you need to do if you want the colorful version like mine.

Instead of printing onto card stock, print the PDF on regular paper.  I chose two different scrapbook papers for the cake and candles and used construction paper for the flames.  I just placed the pattern on top of the scrapbook paper and cut them out together.  I got lazy cutting the flames, so they are off a little.

Because the scrapbook paper is only colored on one side, instead of folding the scalloped icing down according to the instructions, I cut it off and adhered it to the cake with double sided tape.  I actually used a thin layer of hot glue to affix the pieces to the card, because I use hot glue on everything.  It dries quickly and holds firm. 

If, like me, you are not using the paper you printed onto for your card itself, you'll need to mark where to place the glue on the base of the card.  I used the round edge of a paper clip  to transfer the glue placement guide from the pattern to my card.  You'll already have your paper clip out per the instructions to help you fold your pop-up pieces.

That's it.